Mumbai: Serosurvey second phase evokes lukewarm response

The previous serosurvey report which was done in February this year had shown that 99.93 per cent of the healthcare and frontline workers in Mumbai had high antibodies.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 09:02 PM IST
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The second phase of the serosurvey has received a lukewarm response from the healthcare (HCW) and frontline workers (FLW) across Mumbai.

As per the sources, so far 257 samples have been collected in the last five days as there is a fallout in the number of participants. Health experts say if participants didn't come forward then it would be difficult to interpret the results. Moreover, most of them have taken booster doses due to which they resist giving blood samples for the survey.

Dr Pratima Patil, Dean, Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivali said the response is very low as the number of participants is very less. There are 81 HCWs at the hospital, but so far only 35-40 have given blood samples for Covid antibody titre. However, they are going a step ahead and calling the rest of the participants to come forward for the survey.

“Compared to earlier surveys the response is less. We are calling each one of them for the survey as some have different duty hours. We want everyone to participate in the survey to gauge antibody level titre and its validity,” she said.

Out of the 3,094 samples, 838 will be collected from the primary health setup across 24 wards, followed by Solid Waste Management workers (768 samples), BEST workers (768) and Medical Health Officers (720 samples).

A member of the Covid-19 taskforce said, “Sero-survey is a very important tool to gauge the infection level in the community. It shows how many people have the antibodies and where it can provide protection against the circulating variants. Due to the dip in Covid-19 cases, people are not coming forward. The BMC should motivate them to participate in the survey as healthcare workers were the first to get the booster dose.”

Senior health officials who are part of the survey said in the second phase, which started last week, the same participants were supposed to give blood samples. But now the whole 'josh' has gone. People are not coming forward to give samples.

“This will be a hurdle in the interpretation of results and drawing conclusions. Nair Hospital (Microbiology Department and Community Medicine Department) which is conducting a survey, should make provision to ensure that those left out visit the hospital, provide blood samples, fill forms and carry out other formalities,” he said.

Infectious diseases experts say the third wave, driven by the extremely transmissible Omicron, has affected a large proportion of the population. This wave was particularly notable for infection in a large number of healthcare workers, leading to disruptions in medical and many other services.

“Besides, practically the entire population is vaccinated and many, including health care workers, have received their precautionary dose as well. Consequently, many have acquired hybrid immunity (natural infection plus vaccine-induced immunity). Hence, the forthcoming serosurvey of HCWs is likely to show high seropositivity among them,” he said.

The previous serosurvey report which was done in February this year had shown that 99.93 per cent of the healthcare and frontline workers in Mumbai had high antibodies.

What is a serosurvey?

Immunoglobulin-G (IgM) antibodies are produced by the immune system of the body in response to exposure to a foreign particle like a virus. In serosurvey, a group of individuals undergo blood tests to detect the presence of IgM antibodies. This helps to identify the individuals who were previously infected with the virus and have now recovered.

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